Domaine Isle Saint Pierre
Isle Saint-Pierre is a small island in the middle of the Rhône River, located 25km south of Arles and 15km away from the Mediterranean in the heart of the Camargue region. In 1927, Parisian wine merchant Pierre Chassaing founded Domaine Isle Saint-Pierre and devoted himself to cultivating vines and raising sheep.
Today, third generation vigneron Julien Henry farms organically with careful attention paid to the leaf system of the vine. The goal is to achieve the right balance between grape production and the leaf surface exposed to sunlight. Working the soil enables the vines to establish a deep root system, which protects them from the summer droughts. Through careful viticulture and maintaining low yields, the estate is able to harvest its vineyards by the 15th of September before the arrival of the rains, which often fall as the season progresses into fall. The estate continues to raise sheep; a flock of 200 sheep provide the manure needed to nourish the vines.
For red wines as well as for the rosé, the main varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Arinarnoa (a cross between Merlot and Petit Verdot). The white wines are made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat. In collaboration with France’s Agronomic Research Institute (INRA), a parcel of land on the island is devoted to testing the introduction of new vine plants created and selected through research.
Although the Isle Saint Pierre wines come from the very southern stretches of France, they display wonderful freshness and aromatic appeal. The proximity to the water means that the island enjoys a coastal climate (with a cooling influence from the nearby bodies of water) and deep, well draining sedimentary soils comprised of sand and silt. At harvest, as soon as the grapes enter the cellar, they are cooled to a temperature below 16°C (60°F). The whites are pneumatically pressed and gently release their juice free of any oxidation, thus retaining their aromas. The rosé is produced exclusively from free-run juice. For the red, complete fermentation of the sugar takes around five days, followed by a maceration period, which varies depending on the grape variety.